Les Sans Culottes

Fixation Orale

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On their third album (not counting the limited-edition live album Full Frontal Crudite), Brooklyn's les Sans Culottes still have the same strengths and weaknesses as on their first two, this time leaning a bit more towards the former than the latter. As always, their sound blends sweet ye-ye kitsch and garage rock brashness, and as always, April March was doing this sort of thing a lot better back in the mid-'90s. This time, however, the sound is more France Gall than Johnny Hallyday, down to a rocked-out cover of her Serge Gainsbourg-penned 1965 Eurovision Song Contest winner "Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son." Frothy pop tunes like "Allo Allo" are equally charming. As before, however, there's an annoying level of artifice here; in particular, an irritatingly smug brand of hipster cool permeates songs like "Menage a Toi" and "Telephone Douche," which are clearly trying to be epater-les-bourgeois eyebrow-raisers in the manner of Gainsbourg's most notorious songs, but they're just -- well, incredibly lame. It's like someone trying to mimic Dirty Mind-era Prince and getting the topic matter right but the funk all wrong. When they're being Gallic B-52's for the new millennium, Les Sans Culottes have the right idea, but when they're not, the entertainment level drops precipitously.

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